Tuesday, May 3, 2011

My Review of BikeBrightz

Having seen an ad for this product on Facebook, I had a look at their website to see what is offered. After considering the four choices of colors - red, blue, green and amber - I settled on ordering a set of the amber lights.
I placed my order on December 29, the order shipped on the 30th and I received them on January 4th. Not a bad shipping time from Ohio to Honolulu.
Each light is packaged with two batteries included, a pad to protect your bike's paint finish  and two zip ties to fasten them to your bicycle. The zip ties are the standard non-releasable ones that you can find anywhere. BikeBrightz also sells releasable zip ties, two each for $1. For something that you are likely to be putting on and taking off your bike on a regular basis, if you ride at night frequently like I do, it can be inconvenient to have to order more zip ties from BikeBrightz when your releasbale zip ties wearout. You can order a pack of releasable zip ties through Amazon [1] [2] [3], from TieWraps here or CableTiesPlus or you can try you local hardware or computer store. It is a good idea for BikeBrightz to offer them in the first place, though. If people bought a set and then had them stolen or were afraid of that happening, people either might not buy them in the first place or would buy them and then they'd get stolen, which may cause them to give-up on the product. So, BikeBrightz does a great service by offering them for sale and letting people know that such things exist. However, if you're going to go through a few of these every week or so, it's a good idea to buy them in bulk, so you don't have to worry.
The lights are easy to install. You just have to pick a spot to mount them, line-up the cushion pad on the light and zip tie them in-place. Standard places to mount them would be directly underneath the top tube, on the down tube facing toward the front wheel, underneath the chainstay on the opposite side from the chain or on the seat stay facing forward. I chose the down tube and chainstay as the places to mount my lights. When placing it on my down tube, I chose a spot as low as possible to better illuminate the ground under my front wheel.
I have to say that I was very impressed by the amount of light produced. While riding at night, the added protection of the extra light gave me a heightened sense of personal safety and cars seemed to be more aware of me than usual.
I have an old bike that I use to ride to my night job and I have taken great steps to make it better for night riding by adding reflective tape to various parts of my frame, along with the standard front and rear lights. BikeBrightz has essentially completed the work I started-out by giving it a halo of light on the ground around the bike itself. If I repainted my whole bike in a reflective color, that would be the only way I could make it better than it is now for night riding or riding in inclement weather. Most cyclists settle for the front and rear lights and possibly a bright color jacket. Not me. I want the best illumination I can get my hands on.
Speaking of inclement weather: we've been having a bit of rain here in Hawaii for the past few weeks and I was concerned that the BikeBrightz might have a problem with water getting in. Their Customer Service department advised me to put electrical tape over the battery compartment, which is a good way to provide the extra protection for the only part of the light that might be vulnerable to rain, as the rest of the light is well-built and sturdy. Adding a silicon sheath, for example, might seem like a good idea, but it would just be one more thing to have to wrap around the fixture when you're zip tying it to your bike.
There are four colors to choose from and I chose amber for what I think are good reasons. While the other colors - red, blue and green - are nice and look cool, I didn't really consider them when I make my choice. Here's why:
Red and green could get confused with the traffic lights. While it might get people's attention at night, people may have a problem telling you apart from traffic signal lights in the dark. I never assume that car drivers are intelligent or aware enough to tell the difference between me and something else, since I've known too many people who were doing everything the law required and still got hit by a car.
Blue is a color that most cops would have a problem with being placed on a bike as a lighting system. Under Hawaii laws, only police cars can have blue lights on them. So, buying the blue BikeBrightz could get you cited.
Amber is a color most often associated with caution or emergency lights. This is why construction crews use them at night, instead of any other color. It's the color of traffic signals, too, but they warn you of the coming light change to red, so most people tend to slow down when they see it. So, I chose amber because it's the light color that tells car drivers to slow down and/or be careful, which is what a cyclist wants.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that BikeBrightz shouldn't sell other colored lights. I do think that selling blue lights is a mistake, since cops may cite some people for having them on the road. But, red and green are good choices, even if I don't prefer them.
The lights offer different settings for display: steady light and blinking at slow, medium or fast speeds. I'll normally use steady lights in good weather, with the blinkers on during bad weather, but a blinking amber light is good at any time, so it doesn't matter.
At a regular price of $19.99, but on sale now at $9.99, they are a much better alternative than other more expensive lighting systems that are more difficult to install or remove. I wanted to buy the Dow Low Glow for my Xtracycle, but the costs involved and the sheer bulk of the system discouraged me. You can take the BikeBrightz lights off your bike and simply keep them in a purse, pocket or backpack. So, it's not only cheaper than Down Low Glow, it's also more convenient. Plus the BikeBrightz uses standard AAA batteries, which you can buy at any convenience store.
The only bad thing I have to say is that BikeBrightz is not yet sold in bike stores. You can only order them though the website, which limits their availability to the general cycling community. If it wasn't for their ad on Facebook, I would never have heard of their product. Luckily, I did see the ad and I hope to see more of these out on the road in the future.
I'll be showing-off my BikeBrightz to my friends and to local stores over the next few weeks. Out of concern for my friends' safety on-the-road and to help a small company with a damn good idea. If it all works-out, bike stores in Honolulu may be stocking BikeBrightz in the near future.
Duane Browning

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